Paying for a funeral

Funerals can be expensive, so it is important to work out how they can be paid for.

It would be worth checking to see if the deceased has:

  • a scheme to pay for the funeral
  • a pre-paid funeral plan
  • a cremation society certificate
  • insurance policies or details of an occupational pension scheme.

There are more details about ways to help pay for a funeral below.

Help if you receive benefits

If the person arranging the funeral gets benefits, they may be able to get help with their expenses.

This is called a Funeral Expenses Payment.

If you are not eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment you the Money Advice Service may have more advice.

Payment from the estate of the deceased

Normally the bank account of the deceased will be frozen (unless it is a joint account) however, building societies and National Savings may release money to pay for funeral expenses.

There is no legal obligation for them to do this so you may need grant of probate may or letters of administration to do this.

Employer's pension schemes or personal pensions

Some pension schemes provide a sum to cover funeral expenses upon death.  You can find out if there was a pension due to be paid on retirement from the previous employer.

Some employers provide occupational pension schemes that pay a lump sum to help with funeral costs, and pension benefits for widows or other survivors. 

If you can't find  the employee (or whoever has taken over responsibility for the pension) the Find Pension Contact Details website could help.

Other pensions and payments

There may be pensions or lump sums from the deceased's trade union, professional body or other association. Or from a provident club which pays a benefit when a member dies. You can contact them directly to find out.

Help from the hospital

The health board may arrange for the funeral of someone who dies in hospital if their relatives cannot be traced or cannot afford to pay for it. They may then make a claim on the deceased's estate to pay for it.

Help from the council

Under The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 we have a duty to bury or cremate a person who has died in our area where:

  • no arrangements have been made
  • and the deceased's relatives cannot be traced. 

We can then recover costs from their estate and a remaining funds pass to the Treasury.